A Visit to The Sandpiper Inn at Longboat Key
Dinner at Mar Vista Dockside
Restaurant and Pub, followed by Boat Tour
Scenic Tour with Master Captain Jimmy Seaton and his Liquid Limousine
Waterfront Dining and Sunset at The Beach House Restaurant in Bradenton
Dinner at PattiGeorge's Restaurant in Longboat Key, Florida
Brunch with Alessandro Danieli of Re-Federico
The Sandpiper Inn...
a Florida Hidden Treasure for
A Little R & R
|The Sandpiper Inn, Longboat Key, Florida
|A Slide Image Presentation by The Event Lady
Today’s couples and families choose styles
of celebrations, weddings and honeymoons
that are a reflection
of their personalities.
After 27 years in the wedding planning industry,
I can truly say there are no two couples alike.
It is my opinion,that
while some brides and grooms
favor fancy and lavish affairs with long
and exhilarating honeymoon plans,
others enjoy the privacy of sharing
their joyous times with just a few loved ones
in a quiet
and romantic setting.
Sometimes there is a need or
a mood for
a no-frills, just enjoy, and no-schedule,
“do as I please” kind of vacation or honeymoon trip; it is for this later group that I write
this travel article.
was in one of those “want to be by myself state of mind” and had the time and opportunity to take a
drive out of Fort Myers, Florida. I arrived near downtown Sarasota, in less than two hours, took a few turns and found a little, hidden piece of heaven on earth, called Longboat Key. The past week had been a hectic time for me; I was in the mood for very little traffic, few people, and a need
for an urgent dose of nature and serenity to recharge my brain cells. My accommodation of choice, (referred by a dear
friend), was a quaint and cozy, very Florida style property called the Sandpiper Inn. So many times I had been in this area, yet never realized that this historic key was just a few minutes from the famous St. Armand Circle.
The moment I arrived, I felt instant relief from all my anxiety, and left
behind the stress of the outside busy world; this place reminded me of those wonderful family beach vacation spots my parents
used to take me on when I was a child. I miss those days enormously… we seem to have been blessed with slower
style of living and better quality of time, spent with those we love best. As I unloaded my bags, and looked down the lush
tropical corridor, I received a warm welcome by the innkeepers, Richard Merenda and Mary Lou Lookabill,
the lovely couple that manages the location; they have over 40 years experience in the hospitality industry,
and have all the local wedding contacts to help you plan your destination event.
My eyes could not believe this beach front paradise, nestled among flowers and greenery, unspoiled by humanity,
and offering the comfort of secluded privacy within minutes to all attractions, restaurants, shopping and a myriad of places
to visit while in Sarasota.
For a few days I decided to soak it all
up and do exactly nothing… what a treat this concept of NOTHING! I dearly enjoy hearing that word
while on vacation. As I entered my suite, and opened my blinds, I felt right at home!
The Inn offers ample accommodations, featuring efficiencies, or one and two bedroom apartments,
a couple of them overlook the beach. I had a one bedroom suite, with a comfy living room, and a full kitchen.
I was in my own mini-world “Room 107” near the deep blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico,
all by myself, and oooh how I loved it. I bought some groceries, took out a couple of bathing suits,
opened my books, and hid my laptop in the closet!
Good-bye cruel world,
hello sun, seagulls, and warm waters!
This “Event Lady” tried to stay put and continue
with her do nothing plans, really... I tried to just soak up the sun’s rays, but my camera and I kept finding
beautiful details of this Florida hide-away. I could not help thinking about “Weddings” but of course!
This place is perfect; I thought to myself….a long outdoor walkway amongst the garden, perfect for a bridal
aisle, a beautiful pond area for the wedding pictures, and the clearest, most breathtaking private beach with a gazebo. What
more could anyone ask for? All this for the taking, what a spot for a romantic ceremony under the canopy of the sky above.
I felt so happy to discover another Florida destination to hold a tropical beach event.
As a wedding magazine editor, I have always felt so blessed to live and work in this Sunshine State of ours,
where couples can share great times, vacation and celebrate with only a select and special few. Needless to
say to those that know me; I called home right away described this setting to my significant other, (which
by the way, I left behind for some much needed R and R alone time), I said…” honey…how lovely
it would be to come back and celebrate a wedding anniversary here with you and the kids.” He agreed and gently
replied, “Yes my dear, we can come back together, after you come back from your 'Me-Time' a sane and cheerful
woman.” Smart husband he is…
After some sun-bathing, enjoying my few days of solitude;
I decided to venture out into the Key, where I was pleasantly surprised to find so many gourmet restaurants to satisfy
the taste of the most demanding foodie. In the mornings, I just walked across the street for a locals’ breakfast at the Blue Dolphin. I enjoyed delicious fresh home-made style pancakes and omelettes that satisfied my morning hunger! Later
during the day, there were so many places to choose from, a great opportunity to sample some of the key’s best cuisine.
I had the pleasure of dining at a historic restaurant in Longboat Key, known as Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, this location offered an incredible outside patio and view! During my stay, I also visited the waterfront and re-known
PattiGeorge’s for an elegant yet casual dining experience and an after-dinner Sambuca. The next day, I visited the Famous Beach House in nearby Bradenton at the West end of Cortez, where I actually watched the dolphins dance as the sun set before my eyes.
Next on my agenda, some serious shopping; no visit could be complete in this part of Florida without
a final stop at St. Armand’s. It was here that I had a once in a lifetime chance to meet Dolly
Jacobs, daughter of a beloved performer of all times, Lou Jacobs. He was a German born Master clown of the original Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, performing and entertaining
under the big tent for 60 years, from 1925 to 1985. Today, Dolly is an acclaimed world-premier aerialist
and co-founder of Circus Sarasota. She was accompanied that afternoon by a uniquely, funny retired legend of the
circus from her father's time, Mr. Jackie LeClaire, now 83 years old, and duly named Ambassador or Mirth.
He is a story teller of interesting anecdotes from Ringling's beginning in this great city. It was a fun afternoon!
After all my meetings, I realized I
was standing in front of the acclaimed Gonzmart Cuban Family’s Columbia Restaurant; now how could I resist the urge to satisfy the love for my native food? It was then that I knew I had blown my
diet plans; my ability to eat could surpass the one to talk! Just when I thought I could feast no more....I found one more
gem to tantalize my tastebuds; my farewell breakfast was at Alessandro Danieli’s Re-Federico Restaurant, where I was delighted with a unique Italian brunch made with fresh Mozzarella made right at tableside.
I think my pictures can describe the rest. The restaurants mentioned are great resources for my readers; they offer
other party planning options to your Florida style celebrations, providing you with great variety and choices for anniversaries,
birthdays, rehearsals and wedding dinner parties.
Longboat Key offers an extremely versatile vacation
experience, one in which you decide your pace and plan your day according to your desires. You can spend
a day in Sarasota visiting famous places such as John and Mable’s Ringling Museum of Art where you might enjoy a complete tour of the Ca'D'Zan, the Mote Marine Aquarium or the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. These mansions offer spacious wedding facilities as well, for those that dream of a grand style
wedding reception. The rest of my vacation was very laid back; I even got to do some fishing with Captain Mark Gore of The Fish Tale Co. I was quite impressed with a narrated Boat Tour with U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Master Captain Jimmy Seaton and his Liquid Limousine; now that's a ride to really take in the beauty of what the area has to offer in just a couple of hours. What a treat!
After such fun and excitement, it is good to know you can return to a relaxing ambiance, a place where
you can pull up a beach chair and watch magnificent sunsets and dolphins frolicking nearby, or stay in and nap for a while,
and maybe cook your very own barbecue. The forgotten concept of tranquility and the enjoyment of simple nature is
what the Sandpiper Inn offered to me. It is here that "I re-discovered peace and appreciation for trying to live at a slower pace, inspired
by a small but priceless location."
Article by Isabel Albuerne "The Event Lady"
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